A wartime Christmas memory

by Charlotte Tate (nee Masters)

Food was strictly rationed, but each Christmas the government would allow housewives some extra foodstuffs to help families to celebrate the season as best they could. Women would listen carefully as it was announced over the radio what the extras were to be. My mother, Doris and her friend and neighbour Dorree decided to pool their resources in order to make as good a Christmas as possible for their families. Doris and Dorree had made their Christmas cakes, but neither of them had sufficient ingredients to make a Christmas pudding.

They decided to pool whatever relevant food they had and proceeded to clear their pantry shelves in search of anything that could belong in a Christmas pudding. Dorree was so excited to find a packet of dried dates long forgotten. My mother’s brother John, who was a butcher, gave her some off ration suet. Then all the goodies were amassed on our kitchen table, along with the rest of the pudding ingredients.

Dorree’s daughter, my friend Sheila and I sat at the kitchen table armed with scissors and after peeling off the skin, we cut the suet into tiny pieces. Our next task was to cut up dates, figs and prunes into sultana sized pieces to mix with the currents, raisins and sultanas to make up the correct weight of fruit for the puddings.

The two women mixed all the ingredients together, then we children all had a stir, for luck and made a wish, as was customary.

Doris boiled the puddings in cloth-covered basins in our gas boiler. There was one small extra pudding that was to be the taster. When the puddings were ready, the rest of our two families were called into the kitchen and we broke open the taster, shared it out and spooned up every bit. It was delicious!

Ed’s comment – Thank you Charlotte for a lovely story.

© QLHS 2004

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